John 12:32 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."
The Easter season is fast upon us. Americans nowadays may not seem as in tune with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as they are with planning for their local egg hunts, but this is not the case with global Christianity because, as we confirm Jesus’ words in our verse for this week, Christianity is taking over outside our borders and may sooner than later be coming to America to evangelize us.
Dinesh D’Souza, a best-selling author and history scholar, has documented the explosion in Christianity around the world in his bestselling 2007 book What’s So Great About Christianity. As I selectively quote him below, let’s examine where and why this is happening.
"We often read that Islam is the fast-growing religion. Not true. Christianity is the fast-growing religion in the world today. Islam is the second… while Europe has moved away from Christianity, the Christian religion has been expanding its influence in Central and South America, in Africa, and in Asia. For the first time in history, Christianity has become a universal religion. It is in fact the only religion with a global reach.
The new face of Christianity is no longer white and blond but yellow, black and brown. ‘If we want to visualize a typical contemporary Christian,’ Philip Jenkins writes in The Next Christendom, ‘we should think of a woman living in a village in Nigeria or in a Brazilian favela.’ In 1900, more than 80 percent of Christians lived in Europe and America. Today 60 percent live in the developing world." Dinesh goes on to give us the examples of what has been happening in Africa and China.
"A century ago, less than 10 percent of Africa was Christian. Today it’s nearly 50 percent. That’s an increase from 10 million people in 1900 to more than 350 million today. Uganda alone has nearly 20 million Christians and is projected to have 50 million by the middle of the century… Despite the limitations imposed by the Chinese government, it is estimated that there are now 100 million Christians in China who worship in underground evangelical and Catholic churches. At current growth rates, David Aikman observes n his book Jesus in Beijing, China will in a few decades become the largest Christian country in the world."
What’s going on around the globe, and why are we in America so oblivious to it? It will be quite a shock when our news stations one day soon are reporting the influx of Christian missionaries from the East and South to bring revival to American soil! Again, Dinesh D’Souza provides insight to answer why Christ’s words in John 12:32 are ringing true: "What distinguishes these Christians, Philip Jenkins writes, is that they immerse themselves in the world of the Bible to a degree that even devout Western Christians do not. I remember an African preacher who visited a church I used to attend in northern Virginia. He insisted that through God’s grace he had performed innumerable healings. When one of the assistant pastors looked at him a bit doubtfully, he pointed to the Bible and said, ‘Young man, there is a big difference between you and me. You see this book right here? We believe it.’"
The explosion in Christianity in our world is because, unlike Americans (and especially our youth), we are biblically illiterate, so we do not recognize the power in the gospel message because we no longer immerse ourselves in it. The simple statements made by Jesus Himself, as in John 12:32, where He explains that His substitutionary death on the Cross for our sins will draw ‘all peoples’ to Him for salvation, bring millions of people around the world to their knees in revived worship… except in the West.
Again, Dinesh explains for us how his Christian faith revived over time in his own life, by himself quoting D.K. Chesterton as a ‘revolt into orthodoxy’: "I found myself rebelling against extreme secularism and finding in Christianity some remarkable answers to both intellectual and practical concerns… it (Christianity) is thoroughly modern in that it addresses questions and needs raised by life… I don’t know how I could live well without it."
He is echoing the very words of the Lord Jesus Christ, spoken nearly 2,000 years ago: by willingly sacrificing His life as a payment for our sins, people will be drawn to Him because the human heart will recognize there is hope in the Savior. As Dinesh says, "Christianity is winning, and secularism is losing. God is in the future, and atheism is on its way out."
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called "Faith: Substance and Evidence." He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.